When my mum was a little girl periodically my great granddad would send her to look for a specific type of small pebbles. Every time she would ask what they were for, he would chew her out for questioning an adult. The answer was always, “go and ask your mother, you shouldn’t ask your granddad what he is doing.”
Mum would go to grandmum to ask her, she would dismiss it as things that old people do. That’s what Africa’s always been about; children were to do what they were told and not question. In the 50’s the adults did mean well. Today, that just doesn’t fly.
Once my mum brought the pebbles she would be thanked and told to go back to whatever she was doing. She wasn’t meant to be where “jodongo” are. The elders had their own space to bond. Once in a while my mum would sneak back and watch what my great grand dad would do with them. He had a hollow wooden pipe with two compartments. He called it Puga (pronounced poo-gah). The smaller compartment jutting out of the main one is where great granddad would place the pebbles, add dry weed and water. He would then heat it, and as the water boiled, smoke would evaporate though the longer compartment.
The puga would be passed from one jaduong; old man, to the next. Mum would observe the conversation kick off vibrantly, as they inhaled, and steadily stem off as time passed by. They would normally start the ritual at 9 am and go on till 4pm. At 4 pm each old man would pick the chair they came with and quietly walk back to his home.
No way! My great granddad and his pals used to spend a whole day smoking weed. It was a ritual. It was cultural, it was permissible. Damn colonization!